All About Window Tinting (and Why You Should Care)

Types of Window Tint

Some vehicle manufacturers have windows that come with a factory tint on the vehicle's windows, though that is generally only done on the rear windows. This “factory tint” is done by dying the glass. There is sometimes a degree to which the top of the front window is tinted to help reflect the sun's glare. This is especially apparent on older vehicles with stock windshields, as the graduated green strip is clearly visible.

As an aftermarket upgrade, window tinting is generally done by applying a film to the interior of the vehicle’s windows. While DIY kits are available, the results can be messy, with air bubbles or crooked placement. Window tinting on a vehicle reduces the Visible Light Transference (VLT), and window tinting is graded on the percentage of light that transfers. The lower the percentage of light transmittance, the darker the tint.

Legality of aftermarket window tinting

Each state has different window tinting laws regarding the darkness of the tint legally allowed. You can check the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website to find the legal tint in your state. Laws vary widely, from 20% in New Mexico to 70% in some states, including Alaska, Vermont, and Michigan. Factory tint generally has a VLT of 74-85%.

Why people tint vehicle windows

There are many good reasons to do an aftermarket tint to a vehicle’s windows. For many vehicle owners, privacy is an issue. Depending on the VLT level of tint there is the ability to make it hard for a driver to see in another vehicle's windows. Window tinting also blocks up to 99% harmful UV rays, which helps to keep the interior in better shape. Over time, this makes a significant difference in the value of the vehicle, as those with tinted windows tend to have less cracks in leather and less fading of dashboards.

Window tinting also reduces heat in the vehicle up to 70%, which is helpful for drivers who live in high heat climates such as the south. Another helpful byproduct of window tinting is it helps keep glass from shattering during an accident. While the windows of newer cars are all tempered or laminated, reducing the likelihood of sharp pieces cutting an occupant, the adhesive in window tint may result in fewer loose pieces of glass after the window is broken.

The process of window tinting

There are two options when considering aftermarket tint for a vehicle’s windows. The first is OEM tinted glass, which has the tint mixture added into the glass in manufacturing. This makes it more likely to pass even the most stringent state window tinting laws as it is a light tint. This is the most costly window tint as it needs to be done by the dealership when the vehicle is purchased, or by a licensed mechanic after the new windows are purchased.

Film tint is perhaps the most popular option. With this window tint, the window glass needs to be specially treated before a polymer film is spread over the window. Attached carefully, this form of window tinting is prone to bubbles so it is best to have a trained professional do it. The film tint is supposed to be changed every five years or so to prevent cracking and peeling.

Breakdown of Different Levels of Tint

Which method of window tinting a vehicle owner chooses is partially determined by how dark the tint should be. Each method produces a different VLT. Which one a driver chooses could be decided by factors such as the reason for tinting, and what percentage of VLT is legal in their state.

  • Factory Tint: The VLT of factory tint is 74-85%, depending on where the car is originally shipped for sale. This tint is applied by dying the glass, prior to sale.

  • OEM Tint: OEM tint can be ordered to be any VLT that’s desired, but may be subject to the applicable laws in the state where it’s ordered. OEM tint is generally an upgrade that’s done in European countries. OEM tint is applied by adding a mixture to the glass during manufacturing.

  • Film Tint: Film tint can be purchased with a VLT as high as 90%, or as low as 2.5%. Film tint is installed by a licensed mechanic.

Why You Should Care About Window Tinting

Tinting windows may or may not help with the resale of a vehicle. It depends on if the tint was done early enough in the ownership of the car to protect the interior, which is a primary consideration for someone looking to purchase a used vehicle. It also depends on if the tint is legal in the state that the purchaser lives in. Another consideration was the method used to tint the windows. If a DIY tint has lots of bubbles or looks shoddy, it’s not going to be perceived as an asset. Lastly, it comes down to personal preference of the buyer. While the current owner of the vehicle might have loved the aftermarket tint, a prospective buyer might not. It is important to note that neither Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds list window tint in their estimates of car sale values.


Next Step

Schedule Oil Change

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Oil Change. YourMechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7-days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 2,000 cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE

SEE PRICING & SCHEDULING

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Recent Oil Change reviews

Excellent Rating

(21,699)

Rating Summary
20,382
845
179
87
206
20,382
845
179
87
206

Matthew

33 years of experience
991 reviews
Matthew
33 years of experience
Volkswagen Passat - Oil Change - Hampton, Virginia
Matt always does a great job. Very professional. I look forward to my next appointment.... A++++++
Ford Expedition - Oil Change - Hampton, Virginia
I am so please to have Matt work on my vehicle, he is very friendly and personable, and always does a great job.

Greg

22 years of experience
37 reviews
Greg
22 years of experience
Audi A3 - Oil Change - Queen Creek, Arizona
Job well done! Greg was on time and professional. He treated my vehicle with care. He completed the job smoothly and so far so good. First time using Your mechanic and it was a pleasant experience. I will be looking into them again. Thanks Greg!
Ford Explorer - Oil Change - Scottsdale, Arizona
Greg was very friendly and professional. Communication was great, he let me know what he was doing. He went above and beyond to make sure everything was running smoothly. I would 100% recommend Greg!

LAVELL

27 years of experience
93 reviews
LAVELL
27 years of experience
Buick Encore - Oil Change - Oakland, California
Another home run! Really appreciate the flexibility regarding my service appointment. Due to my work schedule I desperately needed a late appointment. So grateful my car is receiving top shelf professional service. Replaced a oil pan drain plug that was seriously damaged and stripped by a competitor that will NEVER get my business again! All services were quickly completed. Thank you so much for another great experience with my.... Your Mechanic Lavell 5 ⭐️ Service consistently.

Brian

23 years of experience
483 reviews
Brian
23 years of experience
Porsche 911 - Oil Change - Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Brian is extremely knowledgeable and very personable and has taken very good care on my 911. I would recommend Brian to any one who has mechanical car challenges. I would recommend Brian to all My friends and family

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

Related articles

Why Is There a Tinted Strip on the Top of Some Windshields?
If If you’ve driven several vehicles, you’ve probably noticed that some vehicle windshields are equipped with a tinted strip on the windshield. The strip can either be blue that fades out as it gets lower, or it may be a...
Windshield Laws in Indiana
If If you drive on Indiana roads, you already know that you are required to follow a variety of traffic rules. In addition to the traffic laws, motorists are also required to make sure that their windshields are in compliance...
How to Replace a Rear Window Defogger Switch
The rear window has a defogger switch that fails if the button does not light up, the rear window does not defog, or the switch does not always work.

Related questions

No air conditioning, radio, power windows or wipers

Hello. From what you are describing it appears that there is some sort of electrical issue that is affecting primary the interior electronics. A few things I would check are the alternator, the battery, and double check the relays and...

Windshield wipers don't work

There are a couple possibilities. The electric wiper motor has failed or blew a fuse, or the problem is in the wiper transmission linkage. When the plastic parts of the transmission are worn, the linkage can come apart. Grab a...

Power window doesn't work

If your power window is not functioning, and it is making only a faint sound, then it is possible that the regulator mechanism has become damaged or stuck, or the motor itself is no longer functioning properly. A thorough inspection...

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 · hi@yourmechanic.com